Following Jesus’ example, many lived simply, humbly, and selflessly to uplift the poor and marginalized, and their faith in God nurtured their hopes for liberation.
This year, India celebrates the 75th anniversary of Republic Day, a holiday commemorating the nation’s constitution coming into effect in 1950. While the efforts of towering figures like reformers Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru are widely celebrated, the courageous participation of Indian Christians in the freedom struggle often goes unrecognized.
Following Jesus’ example, many lived simply, humbly, and selflessly to uplift the poor and marginalized of India, and their faith in God nurtured their hopes for Swaraj, or self-rule. From sheltering dissidents to mobilizing women, educating youth to building institutions, these Christian stalwarts contributed in diverse ways. Their work dispels the myth that the Indian independence struggle was solely a Hindu-Muslim endeavor.
Below are five Christian leaders who dedicated themselves to the cause of Indian nationalism and of overcoming British colonial rule. From Kerala in the south to the Punjab in the north, these men and women of faith were driven by a deep patriotism and a desire to see their motherland free.
1. Sushil Kumar Rudra (1861–1925)
When Kasturba “Ba” Gandhi, otherwise known as the wife of Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi, returned to India from South Africa in 1915, she and her children were welcomed by Sushil Kumar Rudra, a second-generation Bengali Christian and the first Indian principal of the prestigious St. Stephen’s College in Delhi.
Rudra had traveled to Bombay (now known as Mumbai) specifically to receive the Gandhi family, and he hosted them in Delhi while they awaited Mahatma Gandhi’s arrival from London. He had also been the man largely responsible for convincing Gandhi to return to India.
As principal, Rudra …